Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Living in a foreign country can be tricky in many different aspects. Foremost of course the language barrier has to be named. In Sweden of course everyone speaks English, no matter the age. This also means, that most Swedish people wonder why you even bother to learn their language. Apparently it hasn't occurred to some of them, that it is first of all exciting to learn a language and that it is also a sign of respect towards the country you decided to live in.

I sometimes get the feeling, that some Swedish people believe, just because I am not particularly eloquent I am some sort of a retard. I am, on the other hand, quite happy to finally have reached the point, where I just talk and not bother too much about the mistakes I make but rather follow the rule "learning by doing". After 4 years of learning Swedish I finally start to get a feeling for the language, for idioms, choice of words and so on. However I still make a lot of mistakes and often realize how uncertain I am with specific grammatical questions. Still I have improved in comparison to for example one year ago.

Unfortunately it does not really help if you are talking to someone, who corrects your mistakes all the time. Don't get me wrong, I want to improve and I am deeply grateful for those friends of mine that find my constant mistakes and correct them. But being interrupted after every single (!!!) sentence doesn't help at all but rather takes away all my self-confidence so I don't dare to even finish my sentences anymore. This is of course due to a recent situation I was in. I am convinced that this person had good intentions only, but it just did not help at all.

Another problem with languages of course occurs when you want to find a job. Even if the job sometimes just requires English and the office language is also just English, some employers demand perfect Swedish skills which kind of implies that they wish to employ Swedish people only. A close friend of mine found the lovely quote "Efter 20 år i Sverige har man samma chans att hitta jobb som infödda svenskar" (After 20 years living in Sweden you have the same chance to find a job as a Swedish person) and he commented it cynically with "... 16,5 years to go..." Well that would make about the same amount of years for me. I don't know where he got this quote from and to whom this is referring, but it sounds unpleasant.

In the end it comes down yet again to luck: if the person reading your CV likes your background and your skills, small language mistakes won't matter so much. If someone else however is focused on finding a Swedish person in particular I don't have a chance even if my application is error-free. But oh well, it was my own decision to come here and to try to find job!

No comments:

Post a Comment